A little while ago I was on a plane, listening to some music, and really wished that I had a track called ‘Silence’, which would just play Silence into my ears. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the sound of children’s laughter, but sometimes nothing sounds better than Silence.
In the Silence, I can hear myself. I can hear the bit that knows, but that gets drowned out by the bit that thinks. We have to be still and quiet to listen to that part of ourselves, and often it’s really difficult when we’re surrounded by noise, even if it’s enjoyable noise, all the time.
I’m the classic person who likes to play music all the time. Be it Beyonce or Krishna Das, Run the World (GIRLS!) or Om Namah Shivaya, I like to have music on. When walking, when pottering around, when getting dressed, even when showering. I love to cover up the infinite Silence with pretty sounds.
Sometimes this is great, losing yourself in music is amazing. But sometimes, I use it as a distraction. There’s something a bit intimidating about deep and expansive Silence. Yet, Silence is something that we all need.
In the Silence we can just be. We can relax. Thoughts can arise, and then disappear like figures on a screen. We can hear ourselves, we can hear what we want, what we need, what’s bothering us, what we’re moved to do.
Silence is the mother of sound. It’s always there, just underneath the noise. All sound arises from and then returns to Silence. When it’s too noisy, we feel that the Silence has been lost. But it’s always there. In the same way that the sky can be covered by clouds, Silence can be covered by noise, but none the less remains a constant presence.
We’re a lot like the sky. Can you imagine the sky thinking it’s a cloud? It sounds absurd that the huge, vast sky would believe itself to be a tiny, transitory cloud. We are the sky, or the Silence that thinks it’s a cloud or some noise, forgetting that the cloud and noise exist within what we are.
Thoughts will come and go. Some are more persistent, or recognised than others. But they all arise within something far vaster and more real than they are. If we can stay with the Silence, or be the sky, then thoughts become clouds that just come and go.
We might not want them to be there, but we know that we are not them. And that makes it easier to address them. We know that we are not this thought, and therefore have lose nothing when we let go of it.
It has less charge, less pull. It becomes an occurrence, rather than we are. We perceive it, rather than identifying with it.
What we hear, and how we perceive Life, depends on where we put our attention. If we put our attention into the noise, of course that’s what we’ll hear. We’ll hear babies crying, alarms going off, people having animated conversations and the world will feel like a noisy and overwhelming place, full of thoughts and issues that all demand our immediate attention.
But if we can put, and keep, our attention in the Silence, then we can hear ourselves as we truly are. We can see Life arising and then returning. We can relax. We can be.